Personal Identification In The Backcountry? Dog Tags To The Rescue!

Mike and I don’t carry our wallets in the backcounty.  There are several reasons for this.

1.  I don’t like to risk potentially losing my wallet or any of the stuff inside of it.  Replacing a sleeping bag or a tent is easier (if not more expensive) than replacing credit cards, drivers licences, and all of the other things I carry in there.  It’s a supreme HASSLE, and involves a lot of standing in line and a great deal of paperwork.

2.  It’s extra weight.

3.  Aside from my fishing licence, I don’t NEED any of the things I really keep in my wallet.


There are inherent risks involved in backpacking or hiking in the wild parts of the world.  While it’s not totally necessary to wear identification, it probably makes identifying you easier in the event of a worst case scenario.  There are several solutions to this problem, such as Road ID and Memorial Bracelet (they don’t have to be used as memorials, people often get them for MedicAlert bracelets, etc.)

We decided to go with dog tags because they are economical.  I ordered them from Dog Tags Online, but there are lots of sites that sell them.

We had our names, birth date, blood type, and town of residence on the first tag, and our mothers names and phone numbers on the other tag.  Really you can put whatever information you think it vital on it.  Allergies could go on the second tag, or medical conditions.  Whatever you think you would want paramedics or rescue teams to know about you.

They don’t just come in handy when it comes to identifying your corpse either. In an emergency, Mike not be able to remember off the top of his head what blood type I am, or how to reach my mom. In the age of cell phones, I’d be lucky to remember her number on a bad day.

They can be worn for all kinds of activities, everything from backpacking to jogging. If you lost conciousness on a bike path somewhere in the city (and really, where do you carry a wallet in those spandex?) wouldn’t it be nice for the people trying to revive you to know who you are, and potentially what allergies or medical conditions you have?

Something to think about.

About the author

Mike & Cal have been backpacking around Alberta for the past decade. This site is where they share trip reports, photos, and tips and tricks for getting outside.

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